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Effective Strep suis vaccine key to minimising antibiotic use in pigs

Scientists are confident the development of an effective vaccine to prevent Streptococcus suis will help reduce the need for antibiotics in pork production.

23 April 2020, at 10:16am

Streptococcus suis is a bacterial infection found on virtually all pig farms that can affect both pigs and people. As part research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc scientists are investigating a novel approach to creating a vaccine to prevent this infection and thus reduce the need for treatment with antibiotics.

Dr Marcelo Gottschalk, the Director of the International Reference Laboratory for Streptococcus suis at the University of Montreal, observes a growing number of producers are looking to transition to "raised without antibiotics" systems.

vet administers vaccine to young piglet next to farrowing crate
There is no commercial vaccine available for Strep suis and the use of antibiotics in the last years has increased the resistance level of these pathogens

"Presently Strep suis can only be controlled by the use of antibiotics, either prophylactic, metaphylactic or by treatment," explains Dr Gottschalk in an interview with Farmscape.

"There is no commercial vaccine available and the use of antibiotics in the last years has increased the resistance level of these pathogens.

"Indeed the genes causing the antibiotic resistance are more and more present in the Strep suis and this can be transmitted not only between different strains of the Strep suis but it can be transmitted to other pathogens, even those that affect humans.

"The antibiotic resistance is really a problem so the object of this programme is to develop a vaccine able to protect pigs against the disease.

"Having a vaccine will reduce the use of antibiotics.

"It should be said that antibiotic use are mostly in categories one and two.

"These categories of antibiotics are those also used in humans so we need to reduce the use in animals with the objective of reducing antibiotic resistance in bacteria that may also affect humans."

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Dr Gottschalk says most producers involved in "raised without antibiotics" programmes will tell you Strep suis is the main challenge to the survival of such systems.